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Penzone: MCSO $20M under budget, reinvested $9M with focus on hiring

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone announced at a press conference Wednesday that his office spent $360 million of its $379 million budget in fiscal year 2018.

Penzone said $10 million was returned to the County, while $9 million was reinvested into the department.

The office spent $1.79 million on hiring for about 25 new positions, including six “rovers” who fill in for corrections officers when they take breaks, and six sergeants tasked with enforcing the Prison Rape Elimination Act.

The office invested $1.24 million into the special response team that handles prison violence, and $1.19 million went to purchasing equipment including six vehicles, 293 radios and 962 body cameras.

Penzone said this purchase will allow deputies to wear body cameras at all times, including when they are off duty.

MCSO Budget News Conference

Posted by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office on Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The office spent just over $1 million in enhancing the MOSAIC addiction recovery program, which Penzone said already existed but was expanded after the close of the Tent City jail when he took office.

He estimated that closing Tent City saved the county between $4 million and $4.5 million.

“A good portion of these reinvestments as well as savings were contributed to due to shutting Tent City down,” Penzone said.

Penzone also noted that the amount spent on legal fees and settlements dropped from $5.3 million in 2015 and $4 million in 2016 to $2.3 million in 2017.

He attributed at least part of the decrease to avoiding the use of third-party law firms.

Due to the overall savings, Penzone said the office will be able to work with the Board of Supervisors in putting $2.5 million toward improving pay rates over the course of deputies’ careers.

He said he wants to make deputies’ pay more competitive and comparable to other departments due to the office’s large number of vacancies.

“I hope to come in at a flat budget next year with no savings,” Penzone said.

“Why? Because I want to invest every dollar that we have saved into adding positions to this organization. We still run at about a 15 percent deficit.”

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